By Paul Gable
After failing to get the Horry County Election Commission to violate state law by not certifying the special primary election for Horry County Council Chairman last week, Mark Lazarus has filed an election appeal with the Horry County Republican Party, where he will, presumably, ask the party to violate state law.
Lazarus’ argument is based on the initial mailing of Democratic ballots to some Republican voters, a mistake that was corrected as soon as it was discovered and was corrected before election day. Lazarus has claimed in media reports late arriving absentee ballots should be counted because of the initial mixup.
The following is a direct quote Lazarus gave to one of the media outlets in the county: “If anyone had any doubts that election integrity was not an issue in this country, what happened here in Horry County is a perfect example of what Donald Trump warned us about,” Lazarus said.
The story went on to say: “He (Lazarus) said his objective is not personal and his goal is to make sure that the ballot of every voter who intended to vote absentee is counted.”
Actually, what Donald Trump warned us about for years was the dangers of allowing any absentee ballots to ever be counted. Trump told us that absentee ballots are subject to fraud and the only votes that should be counted are those cast by voters in person at the polls on election day.
The problem with what Lazarus is saying is not whether you agree with Donald Trump or not, or even whether you understand what Trump said. What Lazarus is asking is that a recently amended state election law be violated.
The problem is what Lazarus asked the election commission to do, delay certification of the election until all absentee ballots were counted, including those that came into the elections’ office after 7 p.m. on election day.
What Lazarus asked the election commission to do and what he is now asking the Horry County Republican Party to do is violate state law!
A portion of Section 7-15-420 of state law, speaking of absentee ballots, states: “A ballot MAY NOT BE COUNTED unless the oath is properly signed and witnessed NOR MAY ANY BALLOT BE COUNTED which is received by the county board of voter registration and elections AFTER TIME FOR CLOSING OF THE POLLS.” (emphasis added)
The section quoted above is part of an amendment to the election law that took effect December 31, 2021.
The portion dealing with absentee ballots, which states those ballots must be received by close of polls on election day in order to be counted, has no caveats, no asterisks, no footnotes, in other words, no exceptions to when absentee ballots must be received by the county voter registration and elections office in order to be counted in the vote totals.
But that’s not good enough for Lazarus, he obviously believes his argument for accepting late ballots should preempt state law.
There is a pattern. When Lazarus lost to Liz Gilland in 2006, he tried to find ways to challenge the election. When he lost to Gardner in 2018, there were three recounts before Lazarus decided to concede. And in 2022 Lazarus can’t accept that he lost again to Gardner. Lazarus is showing all the attributes of a sore loser who just won’t admit defeat.